Box 41 Seven key questions on transport and the environment in the European Union

• Is the environmental performance of the transport sector improving?

• Are we getting better at managing transport demand and at improving the modal split?

• Are spatial and transport planning becoming better coordinated so as to match transport demand to the needs of access?

• Are we optimizing the use of existing transport infrastructure capacity and moving toward a better-balanced intermodal transport system?

• Are we moving toward a fairer and more efficient pricing system, which ensures that external costs are internalized?

• How rapidly are improved technologies being implemented, and how efficiently are vehicles being used?

• How effectively are environmental management and monitoring tools being used to support policy and decision making?

Political priorities tend to change in response to objective or subjective judgments about what voters want and to events and actions at local, national, or global scales. The flux of political priorities is likely to be most pronounced where the subject is not supported by the specific needs of legislation or by an established wider process or framework. Large international institutional bodies and processes may have an element of stability and continuity that similar national or local activities do not have.

Kates et al. (2000) suggest that research focus in developed countries tends to be more global in orientation and more theory driven than in developing countries, where emphasis may be on local issues and processes. In the area of sustainable development, assessments often fail to include the concerns and perspectives of developing country citizens, sometimes intentionally but more often as an artifact of unrepresentative participation by developing countries (Cash et al. 2002). If actors believe that their views and concerns were not considered, the resulting assessments may not have the desired policy impact, even if they are relevant.

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